38 weeks pregnant and a birth story

It’s been a while since my last post but I’ve been very busy cleaning and sorting and cleaning and organising and cleaning and washing. Not to mention all the cleaning I’ve been doing. You see I’m 38 weeks pregnant now and every day feels like an eternity as I wait for the first pangs of labour to signal the imminent birth of our second baby girl. Everything is as ready as it can be for her arrival, but unless we stop living there will always be more cleaning.

Lyla sleep

38 weeks pregnant with Little Chop asleep on my lap.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about those precious first days and weeks after Little Chop’s birth – hours spent sitting on the couch holding her in my arms and staring at her as she slept and fed and slept again. I was completely overwhelmed with love and awe for this perfect little person I had grown and nurtured in my body for forty weeks and three days, and equally filled with anxiety and self-doubt about my ability as a first time mother. I cried a lot as I struggled to breastfeed a big, hungry baby through cracked bleeding nipples. At Little Chop’s one week check I was told she had lost too much weight because my milk supply was low. I left the nurse in tears and cried for hours feeling as though I had failed as a mother already and should just switch to formula. I know now that the nurse was wrong, I had plenty of milk but it didn’t come in until four or five days after Little Chop was born. Of course she would lose a lot of weight during that time. We went on to breastfeed for 16 months. I now believe the delay in the arrival of my milk was due to being induced and losing about three nights’ sleep in the process.

For those of you who are interested, I thought I would share Little Chop’s birth story as I remember it.

I woke up the morning after Little Chop’s due date with wet undies. My waters hadn’t gushed as such but they were definitely trickling. Excited and nervous, I called my partner at work and my mum to give them a heads up then went for a walk around the block. No contractions.

When I got home I called the labour department at my hospital and the midwife advised me to come in to be assessed. I waited for my partner and mum to arrive, gathered together my hospital bags and off we went. At the hospital the midwife confirmed that my waters had broken, no meconium was present, and that we should go home, get some sleep and return at 6am the next morning for an induction. Needless to say I did not sleep at all that night.

We arrived at the labour & delivery admissions the next morning, weary and anxious to begin, but ended up sitting in admissions for hours. After what seemed like an eternity, a nurse came to take us to a birthing suite, hurrah, it was finally happening! No, it was not happening. We were turned away from the delivery unit and sent to ‘maternity daycare’, apparently a couple of emergencies had come in that needed to birth ahead of me. More hours passed, baby was monitored, and my anxiety and frustration continued to grow. Around 3pm we were finally taken to a birthing suite, I felt relieved and excited. A midwifery intern greeted us and told us that the induction would begin at about 5pm. I immediately burst into tears. More waiting. Was I ever going to birth this baby!

The time finally came and I was hooked up to a pitocin drip. At first it was all laughs and smiles. We took photos. My partner napped overhanging a tiny 1.5 seater couch. Then the contractions picked up pace and pain and things got serious. The midwife offered me gas for the pain, which I inhaled and immediately felt out of control, like when you have one too many Bacardi Breezers and the room begins to spin then you throw up all over your shoes. I freaked out. I yelled at my mum. The midwife said I was euphoric – I think psychotic is probably more accurate. I was then offered pethedine to which I replied, ‘I want an epidural.’

Over the next hour as we waited for the anaesthetist, my contractions continued to build. Not once did they break to let me breathe and gather strength. As one contraction started to fall a stronger one would begin. I watched the intensity rise and rise on the monitor. The tens machine I had hired offered little pain relief but turning it off and on again was a welcome distraction. My mum and partner were on either side of me holding my hands but I have no recollection of anything that was said.

At about 10pm the anaesthetist came in to administer the epidural. He was smiley and handsome and as the pain began to dissipate I nearly declared my love for him – I’m sure he’d heard it many times before. The panic subsided and I felt excited again. At this stage I was 7cm dilated so the midwife advised that I get some rest before the pushing stage. My partner says I slept, I’m not sure about that, but I did rest.

Sometime around midnight a doctor came to the room and said that Little Chop needed to be delivered because she was becoming distressed. I was 10cm dilated and ready to push. With my legs up in stirrups the doctor positioned the forceps, my partner stood by my side holding my hand and my mum paced behind the doctor ready to watch the birth of her first grandchild. The doctor said that an episiotomy would be necessary, I was going to have a big baby. I consented, I was ready to get down to business.

I pushed for what felt like 15 minutes, closer to 45 in real time. Once Little Chop’s head was born her body came sliding out with the next push and my stomach deflated like a burst beach ball. She was flopped onto my chest like a slippery jellyfish and whisked away moments later. She was blue, the cord had been wrapped around her neck. In seconds the room was full of people. I should have been feeling elated but I was confused, I didn’t know what was going on. My mum told me that they were giving her oxygen. Little Chop’s first Apgar score was 4, her second was 8. She gave us a scare but she was okay. She didn’t need to go to the NICU. After ten or fifteen minutes, she was returned to me for skin to skin and soon had her first breastfeed. At about 2am, my partner and mum left to get some rest.

Little Chop continued to suckle on and off for the next five hours until the midwife came and told me to have shower so that we could go to the post-natal wing. I wasn’t really ready to get up, my legs were still a bit shaky but I thought that we could get more settled once we were in a post-natal room. I walked to the shower, stripped off and promptly fainted. I came to with two nurses standing over me, they got me dressed and wheeled us to our room. I shared a room with a woman who had seven young children – they all came to visit…at the same time. Her husband brought peace offerings of Turkish gozleme and Lindt balls, which I happily accepted.

Lyla nb

3.2.12 Little Chop’s first day in the world.

Although I had envisioned a birth with as little intervention as possible, I don’t feel traumatised or disappointed looking back at Little Chop’s birth. In fact, I hate to think what might have happened without medical intervention. A lot of people these days advocate for a particular type of birth experience, but I can genuinely say that all I want is to birth healthy, live babies and not come off too worse for wear myself.

On that note it’s time for this tired mama to get to bed.

Until next time…

35 weeks pregnant – a quick update

This pregnancy has flown by and we are now just five weeks away from meeting our newest addition. It feels like she’ll be here in the blink of an eye. Little Chop made her debut at 40 weeks and three days so I’m not expecting her baby sister to arrive early, and that’s fine by me as there is still so much to do before she arrives!

To mark our five week countdown, here are five things going on in my world right now.

Nesting – Nesting mode is in full swing now. I’ve been Sorting, organising, washing and rearranging like a woman possessed. The clothesline is currently covered in newborn singlets, swaddles and onesies, which is making me feel totally clucky about our new baby girl and equally nostalgic about Little Chop’s first weeks in the world – she’s so big now – sob.

Acid Reflux – This hot, burny liquid that sits in my throat twenty-four hours a day is really starting to get me down. I’ve had to give up all but the odd well-timed cup of tea and acidic foods that I crave like oranges. I also wake up multiple times during the night in need of Mylanta. I’ll be so happy when baby is here and I can enjoy a cup of tea without it threatening to repeat on me.

Sleep – I need it desperately but it’s just not happening, and for the first time in about twenty months Little Chop is not to blame. My aching hips keep my tossing and turning all night, the acid reflux is ten times worse when I’m lying down and then there are the vivid dreams. All this makes sleep uncomfortable and patchy at best.

Packing – My hospital bag is three quarters packed and nothing says ‘reality check’ like a packed bag waiting to be thrown into the car when the time comes. What? You mean I have to get this baby out? Packing my hospital bag has been really exciting but not without the odd moment of freaking the f**k out!

Crying – At. The. Drop. Of. A. Hat! Happy tears, sad tears, I don’t know why I’m crying tears. It just seems to sneak up on me. I was sorting through Little Chop’s newborn clothes to wash and ready them when I came across the socks she wore in hospital shortly after birth. The tears came thick and fast and all I could say was ‘They’re so small, they’re so small.’ Yep, I’m all gooey and clucky and hormonal.

That’s all for now. x

The countdown begins

Today I am officially thirty weeks pregnant – let the countdown begin.

Ten thoughts for the ten weeks I have left…

1. I can’t believe how fast pregnancy flies by when you have a very busy toddler to entertain.

2. I’m absolutely exhausted but due to co-sleeping with my 18 month old, killer acid reflux and aching hips, the deep unbroken sleep that I really need at the moment continues to elude me.

3. This pregnancy has been so much easier on my body than my first. I’ve had more energy, put on less weight and have less aches and pains than last time.

4. I feel more confident about parenting a newborn, particularly with regard to breastfeeding. Establishing breastfeeding with Little Chop was really difficult, physically and emotionally – it was extremely painful, she lost too much weight, I became disheartened and unsure of my ability to provide enough milk for her, but I was determined and we successfully breastfed for 16 months. This time I don’t expect it to be easy, but I am sure of my ability.

5. Am I physically and emotionally capable of parenting two children under two? To be honest, I don’t know. I hope so. I know that it will be really hard, I will be sleep deprived, I will feel stretched thin, I won’t have time to myself. But maybe it will be easier because I know these things. I am also very lucky to have family support nearby.

6. I’m so excited to have a newborn in the house again. It will be a different experience to bringing Little Chop home because I had all the time in the world to hold her while she slept and take millions of photos.

7. I can’t wait to introduce Little Chop to her baby sister. She adores babies, and while I’m sure she will be a bit jealous that mummy’s attention has been diverted, she will also be very interested in our new arrival.

8. This is probably the last time I will be pregnant, unless the universe sends us a surprise. We only plan to have two babies, so looks like we’re just about done.

9. I feel guilty about how little time I’ve devoted to concentrating on and documenting this pregnancy. When I was pregnant with Little Chop, I noticed every movement, I read up on her development weekly, I took pictures of my growing belly and videos of kicks and tumbles. This time around, I simply don’t have the time. I also worry that I won’t take as many photos of this baby as I did of Little Chop as a newborn because I won’t have as much time.

10. I plan to do a couple of things differently with this baby. I was always quick to settle Little Chop when she woke up during the night – I will give this baby more opportunities to self-settle. I will vaccinate at eight weeks instead of six because Little Chop had a week long vomiting reaction to her first set of vaccinations, and I don’t want to go through that again. I won’t be using Farex, as I found it to be really constipating for Little Chop so this time we’ll only be offering non-starchy fruit and vegetable purees as first food.

Anyone else expecting their second?

And the award for the worst week of the year goes to…

On Monday, I let out a big sigh of relief because one of the worst weeks I’ve had for a long time was finally over. I didn’t know it was going to be a bad week. A busy week? Yes. Moving house is always exhausting and we’d never moved with a toddler before, which basically means that you need extra eyes and hands to replace the ones that are busy toddler wrangling.

Last Sunday was moving day – hubby had enlisted a couple of mates to help with the heavy lifting and Little Chop was set to spend the day with her ever doting Non Non (that’s toddler speak for Nonny, because my mother is far too young and stylish to be a Granny) – boxes were packed and we were ready to tackle the moving thing head on. And that we did. At some point in the afternoon our helpers headed home to resume their weekends and Little Chop returned to join the chaos of boxes, packing paper and randomly placed furniture.

When 7.30 rolled around and the pantry box was yet to be found, we decided to order some takeaway from the local Korean; chilli prawns, barbecue pork and rice.  The prawns were enormous, like clenched toddler fists, and really spicy. Eye wateringly spicy. So spicy I couldn’t sleep because I could feel the chilli burning and gurgling all the way through my sensitive, pregnant intestines all night long.

The next day I felt a bit off, nauseous – I blamed the chilli. Then in the afternoon I felt the familiar feeling of hot saliva rising in the back of my throat. I’m not usually a fan of throwing up but I was finally going to get some relief, praise Jesus. I felt so much better, it was over, out of my system, time to resume life.

Except it wasn’t over.

Little Chop was awake in the night, teething. I was sitting up holding her, trying to rock her back to sleep when the acid came up in my throat again. I passed her to hubby and ran to bathroom where I threw up so violently that the little red capillaries around my eyes burst and I peed myself a little bit. Not my most glamorous moment.

When I woke in the morning my underwear was damp. Weird, I thought, must be from the pee that came out when I was throwing up. I went to the bathroom and put on clean underwear but within minutes had another wet patch. I started to panick. I had vomited so hard my waters had broken. Non Non hurried over to watch Little Chop while hubby took me to emergency.

At the hospital a lovely young midwife checked my temperature, blood pressure and monitored the babies heartbeat. She also checked my panty liner, which was dry…hmm. Then two doctors came in and prodded at my tummy while examining my cervix for leakage. Nothing. The doctor explained that the vomiting had probably caused my bladder muscles to weaken a bit so I’d leaked wee. I was embarrassed, but relieved that baby was okay. I then proceeded to throw up again so another nurse came and gave me an anti-nausea injection in my bum cheek. By this stage I was feeling fairly mortified because apart from peeing myself, and having two doctors looking up my vajayjay, and getting an injection in my bum, I also hadn’t shaved my legs in ages.

But wait, it gets worse…

Embarrassment aside, I was feeling a lot better after the injection. I managed to eat something and hoped my stomach would stay settled. And it did aside from a little gurgling. That evening, Hubby went to his course and I carried on with Little Chop’s regular routine with the false sense of security offered by that cheeky injection. Everything was going smoothly until I took Little Chop to bed and, without going into unnecessary detail, I erupted again…from the other end. That evening it took me an hour and a half to get Little Chop to sleep because I was running down the hall to the bathroom every fifteen minutes with her trailing behind each time. I got about two hours sleep that night.

I lived between the bathroom and the couch for the next four days, surviving on rehydration salts, lemonade ice blocks and the odd piece of toast. The midwives at the hospital were fairly certain that I had food poisoning from the prawns – apparently they can stay in your system for several days and don’t tend to elicit a quick reaction from your body like other sources of food poisoning. I am finally feeling better and baby is fine, but needless to say I will not be eating prawns, or Korean takeaway, for a very long time.